How to disable file compression on Windows 10

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How to disable file compression on Windows 10

There are three simple methods you can use to prevent Windows 10 from compressing your files. Have you ever noticed two blue arrows on your Windows 10 files and folders? The two arrows indicate that Windows 10 is compressing those files and folders to reduce their overall size on the hard drive.

Windows 10 automatically compresses files when your hard drive starts to fill up, which is why you will suddenly notice these two blue arrows appearing. However, you can automatically stop Windows 10 file compression. Here’s how.

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What is Windows 10 File Compression?

Windows 10 can use a file compression tool built into the filesystem itself. The process, known as NTFS file compression, compresses files and folders on an NTFS drive. Your version of Windows 10 is installed on an NTFS drive, allowing you to take advantage of this feature.

Using file compression can reduce the overall footprint of files and folders on the drive, but it has some drawbacks. Specifically, your operating system must unzip any file or folder before it can be accessed. On a fast drive in a modern computer, you won’t notice too much, but it can definitely make a difference on older hardware.

Also, NTFS file compression is not meant to be a powerful file compression option. It is a quick and convenient tool that slightly reduces the file size. You will find much higher file compression ratios in third party software.

How to disable Windows 10 file compression

The easiest way to turn off automatic file compression in Windows 10 is through File Explorer. File compression can be applied to individual files, folders or an entire drive. When you apply or remove file compression from a folder or drive, you can send the change to the entire directory, compressing (or uncompressing) each file in each subfolder.

Disabling file compression in Windows 10 is a quick process. First, go to the folder or drive that you want to automatically stop compression. And then:

  1. Right-click the folder and select Property.
  2. In the card General, select Advanced to open the advanced attributes
  3. In Compress or encrypt attributes, uncheck Compress content to save disk space.
  4. Press OK, then Apply.

When the window appears Confirm attribute changes, you can decide whether to apply the changes at the file compression solo to this folder The to this folder, subfolders and files. The second option is useful when you want to stop Windows 10 from automatically compressing an entire drive or folder.

How to enable Windows 10 file compression

Re-enabling file compression is just as easy. Go back through the previous steps, but check the box Compress content to save disk space. You will also see the same confirmation window for attribute changes.

Compressing Files on Windows 10 with Command Prompt

You can also zip and unzip Windows 10 files and folders using command prompt and command compact.

First, go to the folder you want to compress, then Shift + Ctrl + right click and select Open command window here.

You now have a few different commands for compressing files. To compress a single file, use the following command:

compact /c filename

While to compress all files in the folder, use this command:

compact /c *

Finally, if you want to compress all files in this folder, plus any subfolders, use this command:

compact /c /s *

If you want to use Command Prompt to decompress files, the commands are somewhat similar. The following commands are for unpacking a single file, all files in a folder and each file in this folder and its subfolders:

compact /u filename
compact /u *
compact /u /s *

You can find a complete list of syntax on the page Microsoft Compact or use the compact /? command for a list.

Disable file compression using group policy

Let’s say you want to go one step further in your research against file compression, by making sure that Windows 10 never compresses your files without permission again?

If this sounds like your cup of tea, you can disable NTFS file compression using the Group Policy Editor. Group Policy is a Windows feature which applies a configuration option to the entire system. You make changes to the policy using the Group Policy Editor.

The Group Policy Editor is not available by default for Windows 10 Home users. However, Windows 10 Home users can enable the Group Policy Editor option or use a third-party policy editor.

Follow these steps to disable NTFS file compression using the Group Policy Editor:

  1. Press the key Windows + R to open the Run dialog, then enter msc and press Enter.
  2. When the Group Policy Editor loads, go to Computer Configuration> Administrative Templates> System> File System> NTFS.
  3. Open the policy Do not allow compression on all NTFS volumes to change it.
  4. Select Qualified if you want to stop all file compression then Apply.
  5. Restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

To disable this feature in the future, do the steps again, but disable instead the criterion.

Is the compression of the files the same as a ZIP archive?

The other common method of file compression that most users are familiar with is a file archive, such as a ZIP file. A ZIP folder compresses the files so that they take up less space on the drive, but when you extract the files from the archive, all your data is still there.

The biggest difference between compressing a file using an archive and compressing using the Windows 10 built-in tool is functionality.

When you compress files in Windows 10 using the built-in tool, those files are compressed only on that particular drive. If you copied the files to another drive, such as your trusty USB flash drive, the files would no longer be compressed after copying.

Whereas when you compress files using a file archiving tool, you create a specific archive of compressed files which remain compressed until the files are extracted. You can copy this file archive to another drive and the file will remain compressed within the archive.

Keep your system free of old files

Windows 10’s NTFS file compression option won’t take up mountains of space for your files. This is not its role, and it was never designed to work this way. If you’re running out of space on your hard drives, you need to have a good spring cleanup of old files or invest in more storage.

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